LGBT

And Still I Rise: The Queer Version

After reading this.

And a heated Twitter rant here.

Came the following:

And Still I Rise: The Queer Version

You may write me down in history

With your bitter, twisted lies,

You may trod me in the very dirt

But still, like sluts, I fuck.

Does my sassiness upset you?

Why are you beset with gloom?

‘Cause I walk like I’ve got Beyonce chilling in my living room.

Just like moons and like suns,

With the certainty of tides,

Just like Rihanna gets high,

Still I’ll rise.

Did you want to see me broken?

Bowed head and lowered eyes?

Shoulders falling down like teardrops, Weakened by my soulful cries?

Are you into BDSM?

Does my haughtiness offend you?

Are you seeking a sub?

Don’t you take it awful hard,

‘Cause I laugh like I’ve got Gaga sashaying in my own backyard.

You may shoot me with your words,

You may cut me with your eyes,

You may kill me with your hatefulness,

You may try to read me,

But still, like Lindsay Lohan, I’ll rise.

Does my sexiness upset you?

Does it come as a surprise

That I dance like I’ve got the fountain of Youth at the meeting of my thighs?

Out of the huts of history’s shame

I rise Up from a past that’s rooted in pain

I rise I’m a vast ocean, leaping and wide, Welling and swelling

Leyomi dropping and sashaying,

I bear in the tide.

Leaving behind nights of terror and fear I rise

Into a daybreak that’s wondrously clear I rise

So don’t be a bitch, dear

Bringing the gifts that my ancestors gave, I am the dream and the hope of the closeted and queer.

I rise

I rise

I rise

 queer

I’m disappointed.

I’m ashamed.

And I can’t say I’m shocked but sometimes, I still marvel at society’s ignorance.

This is one of those times.

Martin Taught Me

No, not Luther King, Lawrence.

He was Madea before Tyler Perry.

Sans the perpetuating of all Black stereotypes and monotonous story-lines.

Here’s a list of things Martin taught me with a wig, press-on nails and lots of sass.

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1. When it comes to trans people, refer to them as they’d like to be referred to.

We all knew Martin was Sheneneh. Sure. It was evident. But I love how no one, at any point in time made any negative remarks or questioned her authenticity as a woman.

That was a valuable lesson I think he was trying to get across.

Gina: Maybe I can give you some advice on girl stuff or something like that..

Sheneneh: …You thinking like your friend huh? That I ain’t ladylike and stuff huh?

Gina: No, that is not true. Look at your hair, your nails and your jewelry, I think you’re very ladylike.

Sheneneh: Because Sheneneh is a round the way fillet.

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Respect it.

2. “If a man don’t like you for you then he can just step off, aiiiite?”

3. When it comes to drinking 40s.. Or if you’re down here, Black Label quarts, you don’t drink it outta the glass, you got to take it to the head. 

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4.  Sometimes 

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5.  “Don’t be trying to trip, if you ain’t rich. Sheneneh ain’t no trick. Better have a grip. And if you ain’t got no rims on your hooptie, don’t be tryna scoop me.”

If you don’t understand..the message is similar to Destiny Child’s “Independent women”. Basically.

6. Never be afraid to tell someone you’ll buss their ass. Even if you never actually do.

7. You better work. 

Sheneneh was a focused woman.  A weave technician with her own salon and designer weaves, including the “My man just got paid” weave. She also had numerous awards from hair shows.

Work.

8. Know you’re Fine, don’t need anyone to tell you. Know you’re Fine.

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9. Don’t be that person

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Very valid message actually, just overlook the threat at the end.

10. Evaluate everything.

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Things I’ll probably never fully understand: Men, Race and Gender

  1. What it’s like to be  a Man

It’s easy to complain about men’s behaviour isn’t it? So many of them mess up so effortlessly when interacting with women.  If one isn’t calling you a bitch he’s groping you or one of the straight ones is going on about how “homos” are an abomination. They’re quick to point out how they don’t do certain things because they’re “not bitches”, think feminists “are just angry lesbians” and when out, it’s shocking to find one who isn’t getting sloppy drunk, sexually harassing a woman or looking for a fight.

Now no, I’m not saying that ALL men do this, I’m saying a lot do. Too many.

And some genuinely have no remorse. Some think this is what it means to be a Man.  Some are unwilling to grow.

Why? Because this  is what they’ve been taught it means to be a Real Man. These are the thoughts that’ve been ingrained into their minds.

A man doesn’t cry.

A man doesn’t read books that aren’t about nude women, sex or money.  Wondering about the World and feelings is for women and homosexuals.

Nobody’s opinion matters more than a heterosexual man’s.

You need to be your own man, but only as long as your father and society approves.

Do not feel. Do not think anything you haven’t been told to think. Do not be anything other than what you’ve been told to be.

And a lot of men refuse to acknowledge that they aren’t living for themselves. That they live with a chronic fear of being considered feminine because, whether they’ll admit it or not they believe a woman is a horrible thing to be.  That it gets heavy sometimes, having to always be on your toes because someone may catch you slipping and wearing pink, only to question your sexuality.

That they’re often confused and feel confined by the word “Man.”

With the help of one, I have little difficulty understanding their experiences and their behaviour. I encourage my male friends to explore their feelings. To be honest about their desires, their fears and their dreams. To draw the line between What Society Wants and their Wants.  And there, I’ve found a lot of pain. A lot of confusion.

A lot of women are guilty of stripping males of their humanity too. Girlfriends who laugh when their partners cry or confide in them, mothers who tell their sons to “man up”, there’s always someone ready to continue the process of dehumanizing the Man, and yet who complains when said Man begins to act like the animal he’s been led to believe he is.

Men need healing too. They need acceptance too and for us to acknowledge their struggles with identity etc. They need to be taught.

I know some of you, especially women, are reading this and saying “Well they don’t do that for us” and I know, they don’t. Some of them are lost causes. But some men really do want to be better. They know there’s more to Life than being “Real”. If you come across one, nurture them. Is all I’m saying.

Hard_Rain

2.  What it’s like to be Black, In America

“Diaspora”. I first heard the word in High School as my History teacher discussed “the African diaspora”. The conversation led to how hard life must be for Black people  in America. We all rolled our eyes.

What was he on? Evidently someone didn’t listen to Hip Hop. Hadn’t he seen all the sexy women with long weaves chilling outsides their yards, hanging out with their high yella lovers as kids played on the streets and expensive cars passed by with drug dealers behind the seat? Hadn’t he ever witnessed that Utopia? Well..yeah..random shoot outs would occur and that was sad..Yes, Tupac said it was rough over there but..It couldn’t be THAT bad, right? Right?

We thought for a long time that because America was “civilized”, because everything that we knew to symbolize success came from there or was somehow connected to it and the American Dream, it wasn’t possible for anyone to be unhappy there.

We thought Black Americans were ungrateful.

You need to understand, we got to see them through the eyes of the privileged White people who create the shows and the videos.

So we thought: Thugs. Prostitutes. Crackheads. Drug dealers. A few trying to make it out of the hood. Black on Black violence.  Unappreciative. Lazy.

We were led to believe the circumstances that many live under were of their own doing. That America, the land of Milk and Honey, provided equal opportunities to everyone. Everything was there, the Blacks just wouldn’t get up and take it because they still believed they were victims, that they were still being oppressed.

Delusional Blacks, living in the past. Tut tut.

It wasn’t until I stopped paying attention to the media that I began to somewhat understand the effects of oppression, the difference between what Is and What’s Shown etc. Social networking sites began my growth as a person, as a person of colour, as a woman, and for that, I’m eternally grateful. Meeting and interacting with not just African Americans but Black South Africans and hearing their stories made me appreciate my country and experiences that much more, as I understood theirs.

Botswana’s never really had any hostile experiences. Our country’s filled with Batswana and to be honest, most of us are shocked to see White people among us walking.  They’re an addition to our society, we aren’t an addition to theirs. We don’t know what it’s like to be Othered.  To be treated as Less Than. To be viewed as parasites in our own Land.

When the Trayvon Martin case began, some ignored it because they felt many more kids had been murdered, why focus on one? But I remember someone saying it would be an iconic case and we all waited to see whether that would be true.

Zimmerman was acquitted.

The case was simple. We all knew.

He saw a young Black man walking, he stalked him, confronted him and murdered him.

And he was let go.

It’s not that we didn’t know chances were this would occur, it’s that many were hoping it wouldn’t.

Now?

The racists are coming out to play.

Black boys are scared.

The Black community is outraged.

Simply, the facade is falling apart.

I cried.

I still do.

It’s heavy. It’s heavy on the heart and it’s heavy on the Soul.

I continue to watch this all unravel.

Me

3. What it’s like to feel like a stranger in your own body

Growing up I thought you were either a man or a woman. It was that simple to many. If you’re a woman, act like one, is you’re a man, act like one.

I didn’t acknowledge the Trans community til later on in Life, and even then, even now, it’s still something I’m learning about. Someone explained it to me simply “I just don’t feel comfortable this way. It doesn’t feel like who I am. Who I should be” and it’s something I still think about.

To a lot of people, the fact that they can’t relate means they should  reject something.  I thinks it’s silly.  I don’t relate to your struggle but that doesn’t mean that I shouldn’t understand it.

One of my closest friends is undergoing hormone treatment. When she told me she intended to go along with it, she was cautious. I could shun her. I could tell her it was a waste. I could tell her anything that would dismiss her feelings and crush her spirit. I understood why she tiptoed around it.

My main concern? Was she sure? Would it make her happy? Then sure.

We already live in a society that’s dismissive, you don’t need to be one more person who’s a total asshole to  people because they aren’t like/don’t feel like you.

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I’ve had my own experiences as an African Cisgender Woman, and I am always aware of what and who I am. I appreciate it. But I’m always fully aware of the fact that there are so many more stories out there. An endless array of feelings and experiences that I’ll never fully feel, and I appreciate that too.

The World is larger and more diverse than your existence and your experiences, I’ve learned.

Between Legs and Hearts

I wrote the following piece a while ago and it was previously published on a friend’s blog, KlarOnyx , but I felt the need to bring it here as it is quite personal for me. If you haven’t seen it yet, I hope you enjoy it.

“..And I believe that marriage isn’t between a man and woman, but between Love and Love.”

–Frank Ocean
The average Black child is raised in a Christian household. Men are bread winners, providers, protectors, to those lucky enough to have fathers. Mothers are obedient care givers and children, well they try their level best to not be a disgrace, to not provide any reason for the neighbors to cast eyes in the family’s direction. For the most part we play our parts well.
Except during our teenage years when we discover freedom of speech and the fact that we have rights and once the pubic hair appears and the breasts bloom, we think we’re ready to take on the world.  We learn ourselves.  We learn of other people.  We discover the differences and similarities between us. We discover love, pain, the weight of choices and the terror and beauty of change.
Growing up, I never thought of Love as caged, or controlled.  People loved each other. That’s all I knew.  I was never concerned with whether it was a man loving woman or a woman loving another woman. If it pleased them, I could see no reason why they shouldn’t do it.  I was raised in a household with both parents. The majority of relationships around me were heterosexual, but it was never something I paid any real attention to.
I don’t know when I began to acknowledge homosexuality. The earliest memory I have connected to it was of my cousin, who was a zealous Christian, explaining to me that Sodom and Gommorah were burnt down because people did “bad things” there. Ever the inquisitive  creature, I pestered her til she told me that Men laid with men as they did women. I wasn’t horrified. I wasn’t in the least bit concerned. I did not see the “evil” in their type of affection.
Homosexuality is illegal in most countries in Africa, approximately 38. Many claim it is “unnatural”,”UnAfrican”, some go the extent as to claim it’s “Evil.” When this issue was brought up the other day on Twitter, Tumi Molekane coolly asked someone who shared these sentiments “Were you born straight?”
I have a few issues. First of all, I don’t understand why Love has to be regulated. Why we feel the need to have a say in what happens between consenting adults, something that has nothing to do with us, Love that hurts nobody is beyond me.  I’ve decided it could be because people already subconsciously feel powerless in society as is. They cannot live as they please, therefore looking down upon and judging others, those who do, is the next best thing. Also, divide and conquer works wonders. It would be easier for Governments to do as they please while we’re still busy caring about who’s sleeping with and loving who.
I understand that as people tend to fear what we don’t understand and hate may stem from that fear. The majority of people around are straight, and we respect that, but left to their own devices with no judgement, would they be? Nobody really knows why we’re straight as nobody knows why some are gay. Being straight serves a purpose when it comes to procreation, yes, but other than that, what is there? I am not religious, therefore quoting the Bible to me when it comes to such matters is non sensical. First of all, Christianity is a foreign doctrine, brought to us by the same people who stole our land, spiritually broke our forefathers and raped their women. Let’s be logical for a bit. If you were seeking to take something from someone, wouldn’t it be easier to tell them the Man In The Sky wants him to NOT seek revenge and turn the other cheek? That he wants us to suffer on Earth? You’d know he wouldn’t react to whatever you did to him from there. But anyway, that’s neither here nor there. My point is, telling me things  like “God made Adam and Eve, not Adam and Steve” renders you an Idiot in my eyes. The Bible has also been used  in arguments to make slavery, racism and abuse of women seem acceptable. So miss me with that.
In life, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting all kinds of people. Straight people. Gay people. Bisexual people. Closeted homosexuals. And even a few Asexual people. I’ve judged them all based on their character as people. I thankfully know that I have no right to call another “disgusting.” In my books, if you are not purposefully harming anyone, it’s highly unlikely that I’ll have an issue with you. I have also met homophobic people, heard all their arguments, met men who hate homosexuals yet love lesbians, lesbians who hate straight men and people who just want to be loved regardless of who provides the affection.
Straight people are blind to how privileged they are in Society. They get to marry, they get to love freely, they get to BE, to exist as they please for the most part.  No one questions this. No one gives them awkward side glances, no one calls them names or judges them. They have not lost friends due to their sexual orientation, they do not live with a constant fear of being a victim to hate crimes. They are not ignored by their relatives. NOBODY makes them feel ASHAMED for being as they are. No one.
I know a man. He adores me. I cannot put in words how secure I feel in his adoration. He is my pillar of strength, my teacher in Life, a constant companion. He has seen me at my lowest in Life, and loved the pain and doubt away. He has shared my bed, my tears, my food, my Life. He is gay and has been for all his life. And I love him with all that I am. Because I have not closed my mind to certain things, I have received the purest form of love there is. Selfless love. I have watched boys come and go in my Life. Many at some point I would’ve died for. But He is the one I would gladly live for. And do. Many people will never know what I’m talking about.
I can only try to explain to you what it’s like to love somebody society chooses not to. I have seem him broken down over comments from people who have no idea what his name even is. I have seen his fear and heard the comments. Seen the looks. Felt the judgement. He moved away and there were nights when I couldn’t sleep because he’d gone out and I was afraid for his life. We have loved each other fiercely, through all this and more. And I have stated many a time that I would marry him, and remain happy forever, than be with someone who doesn’t appreciate me. I have not bought into the idea that marriage should be a chore as it seems to be for most, excuse me.
I understand  the intricacies of the human heart too well to believe being gay is a sin, or wrong. I believe in Love too much for me to look upon forms of it as disgraceful.
With that having been said, I have met a Woman. And my heart adores her. I have not questioned my Heart, I have felt, willingly. Because I have never been one to put titles on myself and live by them. I feel no need to. I Love, and whether it be a man or woman is irrelevant to me. Has it been easy to accept this? For me, yes. I am happy. Others..? Not so much. I find men look upon love between two women as something sexual and not emotional, not spiritual. I guess they think the same of gay men too. It’s easier to assume homosexuality is just..sexual. And I think, straight people think so because they have no idea what any other type of love other than Eros [Erotic] love feels like. I also think this is a damn shame.
I did not write this in order to change the world. It probably won’t. People don’t read nor feel anymore. I just give you my thoughts and feelings and hope.. Hope that maybe you know you might be wrong. Hope you might change the way you think. Hope you might know love is more than anything we could ever understand.
In the words of Frank Ocean yet again, “..I’m starting to think we’re alot alike. Human Beings spinning on Blackness. All wanting to be seen, heard, paid attention to.”

A Real Issue

“A real woman has curves”.
“A real woman never lets her man leave the house hungry or horny.”
“A real woman always puts others first.”
A “real woman” is something that I , as a woman, find hard to define, so who is attempting to? And failing dismally while at it.
TheFreeDictionary.Com has several definitions for the word “Woman”, some of which include:
wom·an (wmn)
n. pl. wom·en (wmn)
1. An adult female human.
2. An adult female human belonging to a specified occupation, group, nationality, or other category. Often used in combination: an Englishwoman; congresswoman; a saleswoman.
3. Feminine quality or aspect; womanliness.
4. A female servant or subordinate.
5. Informal
a. A wife.
b. A female lover or sweetheart.

I have to wonder, which definition are we attaching “real” to? The first one? The second?
To me,it seems the Fourth. A real female servant or subordinate because let’s face it, we live in a misogynistic, patriotic world. And from the quotes above, doesn’t it seem like we’re merely preparing these “real” women to be the ideal servants?

While writing this I had to ask,what makes a Woman? We could be biological and say XX Chromosomes. We could say “The acceptance, cultivation and use of overly feminine character traits/qualities”, but would that even begin to graze what it is that really makes a Woman? Can it be defined? I find myself stepping out of the regular mold  of puberty making every girl a woman, and wonder on the men who feel trapped in their bodies, the transgender community and realize  beginning to even attempt to say what a Woman is is firstly downright rude,and second, possibly impossible.

I tried none the less and what I could come up with was this: “Strength”. And as with anything or anyone that is considered ‘Real’,the strength to be as one REALLY is, as is in one’s nature to Be.

It is degrading to attempt to box in Femininity to such an extent as to define what is “Real” and what isn’t. As there have been women who’ve nurtured and taught, the Winnie Mandelas and Mother Theresas and Joy Phomaphis, there have been women who’ve conquered and blazed new frontiers  the Joan of Arcs and Ellen Johnson Sirleafs and Unity Dows. None has made a lesser contribution in their respective fields because of their body shape, or been seen as a failure because they were not there for every meal at the dinner table.

We must ask, is there anyone out there who is of the mind that “A real man is skinny”, or “a real man never lets his wife leave the house tired and horny” or “a real man sacrifices himself for those around him”?I think not, and in the event that they do exist, their number compared to those who believe in these “Real women” traits would be a mere fraction.

I find myself questioning whether Misandry is the only way to counter Misogyny. Understanding between the two sexes seems to be a far fetched pipe dream considering how things are at the current moment. Women are becoming more vocal and their disgust at how we’ve been treated and portrayed is evident. Women such as Kola Boof,Egyptian/Sudanese-American Bestselling novelist, poet, television writer and author of THE SEXY PART OF THE BIBLE are quite vocal about how they feel regarding how the Media portrays the female,more specifically,the Black woman and I find that women who speak out against such injustices are labelled loud, crass,unruly and bitches. The majority of men view Feminist views as silly, unnecessary, and the condescending ones find us standing up for our rights as “cute.”

Martin Luther King stated “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere”. Now don’t you find that breaking down the internal make up of females and making them feel inadequate as they already are is really a diversion off other matters? Most men and their need to be Superior seems to be the issue here. Women must be pretty trophies and leading them to insecurity makes this easier. It could also be other women perpetuating this way of thought because it’s what they know and they too would like to feel like “better” females. Either way, neither is winning as far as I’m concerned.

It is senseless to try to say what a Real Woman does, looks like and believes. People have been around long enough for us know we cannot DEFINE,as much as we try. Unfortunately,as much as we’ve evolved physically, intellectually many are still stuck in the stone ages with their beliefs. No group of people is Less than any other. Not Blacks, not women, not homosexuals, not blondes, not the lady with an A cup bra size. We remain separate but equal. But few know this, and even fewer seem to believe it.

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